India is already strong in offshore gaming development. With favourable demographics and fast growing internet usage, the local market for gaming is ripe for an explosion. In an exclusive interview with Techcircle.in, Alok Kejriwal, Co-Founder and CEO, Games2Win talks about his company, the latest trends in the digital gaming market and the overall market in general.
Everybody talks about the gaming revolution that has hit India, but how much of that is true and how much of that is myth?
I think that is a great question and I think a lot of it is a myth, I think there is an entertainment revolution happening, people are entertaining themselves in many ways, they are buying mobile phones, television and cinema has exploded, but is gaming part of that revolution is a big question mark. I don't see it becoming mainstream entertainment yet, but I think there is this urge to make it appear as if there is a gaming revolution. I don't think that is really important. We have to figure out that sweet spot where gaming meets entertainment in India
Do you feel that the so called gaming revolution will sustain in India?
We haven't even started yet, I think there is no movement in gaming in India yet, I don't believe in that story. How many companies have gotten funded in gaming, how many companies have exited in gaming, how much console and CDs sales have happened? I don't think it has begun. I think it is going to take its own time but yes something will definitely happen.
Is this the second coming of digital gaming in India?
I don't think so, people have been gaming on mobile phones, some cd rom experience, so it's just that we are approaching it differently but it is not the second coming of digital gaming in India. It has always been growing but very slowly since it is the Indian rate of growth.
What are the dos and don'ts of new start-ups in the gaming sector?
Do's is don't copy, everyone wants to become the next Zynga and Zynga has been there done that, so I think the first thing you should not do is copy an existing business model. The other thing is don't assume that what works in the west will work in India, heavy duty games don't work, we don't have bandwidth, we don't have the consoles, we don't have the infrastructure. What you must do is look at the Indian market and look at what can make you shine out and I think the focus should be on creating compelling content which will make the Indian audience play.
What needs to be done to reach the success of companies like Zynga?
I think it is going to be a collection of effort of people who have large balance sheets because you have to spend money to generate a category. I think in India first a category for gaming has to be created and category creation happens with people who have very large balance sheets, so I guess investors, maybe strategic media houses will have to put money in work with the assumption that 9 out of 10 things they do will not work. So that leap of faith has to happen and I think the Indian entrepreneurs need to be excited about gaming, I mean everyone wants to open e commerce sites, I don't know why, so if you don't have entrepreneurs meet capital, there is no magic.
Which Monetization model will work best in India?
There is no single sacred formula for monetization of games in India. I guess it's going to be a mixture of advertising; it's going to be a mixture of micro-payments, probably subscription. It's a question of what makes the Indian consumer excited. What makes him say 'I got to pay for that'? Honestly there is a lot of friction in India for anything that has to do with payment. There is a governmental friction which is RBI; pay pal doesn't work in India. having said that there is also the concept of how do I collect and there are so many intermediaries with vested interests that it is very difficult to smoothen that transition and that's what I think is creating a problem. But I guess when the content is compelling and the wallet is ready, people will pay
Can a developer make a game exclusively for India and still generate revenues like Zynga?
Absolutely, you know you have to be based in India; you don't have to make a game that Indians play. So if you use Indian cost and make a game that the world plays, you can be bigger than Zynga. I think the mistake that people do is that they make the game in India and they focus it for India. There is no golden rule that you have to be in India for India, you can be in India for the world.
What have been your investments?
We have spent a lot of money on content creation; we have a large team of about a 100 people. These are probably what I call the world's best creative people and programmers and artists in games. These guys make games that are world class games in our Flash casual category; I am not claiming that we make console games; we don't want to make console games. We also spend a lot of time and money in understanding the global market, in meeting clients, in distribution (not paid distribution but marketing distribution). So basically it is all about content and hard work of making sure that the content goes out.